Alvanon

How Patagonia is Rewriting the Rules of Denim

Each day brings news of big changes in Washington, and both denim brands and retailers are anxiously trying to make sense of what it all means for them. The lack of clarity will affect the value denim produced in Mexico which serves the mass market. With potential new taxation and trade challenges looming in the near future, this could massively impact the U.S. mass market. Everyone who wants to buy their inexpensive denim at Walmart or Costco may be in for sticker shock going forward.

And let’s not forget about fit. Every time a brand needs to move their source of manufacturing to maintain their pricing strategy, like from Mexico to … anywhere, there’s a chance product will possibly fit differently due to the new factory, different denim materials or wet processing techniques. The result? It’s a chance for FIT to erode—at least in the short term. Fit erosion can lead to product returns and loss of customer loyalty to a particular brand or retailer.

Times are tough for fashion retailers, but even tougher for the denim industry as the market remains under pressure. But fear not, denim is not dead … not even close. Americans are falling in love with denim again, and this time it’s coming at the expense of yoga pants.

Why Patagonia Enlisted Alvanon for Its Denim Relaunch

The filthy business of conventional denim, vis a vis its sustainability mandate, drove Patagonia to rethink the entire process. Through innovative technology, Patagonia is changing the way denim is made and raising the bar for environmental and human rights practices. It now uses eco-friendly materials and processing to give their customers the best denim product for their active lifestyles.

As part of the relaunch, Patagonia enlisted Alvanon to review statistical data and customer feedback to help develop new denim styles in a variety of fits. Our first goal was to develop a fit framework to get the team aligned and to do that we had to understand what the customer was saying about the product.

Research on consumer feedback, sales and returns data going back five years, grounded our work on tangible facts. After evaluating customer feedback, we learned that Patagonia’s active lifestyle fans often had heavily muscled legs, thus, difficulty getting into slim-fitting jeans. That meant that the brand’s gusto for including a trendy skinny style in the new line might not be the best idea. Fit models matched with what the data were telling us.

When the reimagined denim collection eventually launched, it included three men’s and three women’s jeans that were rugged, stylish and performance-driven. The men’s offering included performance straight fit, regular fit and straight fit, while women could choose from boyfriend crops, straight and slim.

The findings included a surprise from what some of the analytics revealed. Reconciling those findings to vision of the brand meant that the team had a roadmap to keep them on track as they went through the fabric and fit development process.

We have been involved in many other denim relaunches: the role that data analysis played in this case was unique. When meaningful data are available it can be a great indicator of what the customer is telling the brand. It can also diffuse passion from fitting-room dynamics, avoiding disappointment and missed sales. Patagonia used the most sophisticated Alvanon technology to deliver its brand promise.

Talk about a simple step with a big impact!

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